March 20, 2009
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Contact: Public Affairs Office
At approximately 7:30 P.M., on March 18, 2009, the Suwannee County Sherriff’s Office called Hamilton Correctional Institution and requested assistance from our K-9 Team. An SUV was found abandoned on 133rd Road West of Live Oak that had been stolen and used in a burglary in Blountstown, FL. The K-9 Team, consisting of Sgt. Morris, CO. M. Sparks and CO. S. Folsom, backed by Sgt. Green of the Suwannee County Sherriff’s Office, began tracking from the vehicle with K-9 Copper. The team followed the trail South across C-136 and through a weed field where they observed the subject’s shoe prints. The trail led them to a residence where they observed the same shoe prints at the front door. The subject was in the residence and was taken into custody by the Sherriff’s Office.
The Florida Department of Corrections has 36 teams of bloodhounds trained and ready to assist throughout the state when emergency situations arise. Last year alone, the DC’s bloodhounds were called to assist sheriff’s offices, police departments and others in need 411 times – averaging more than one call per day.
The original purpose of the DC’s Canine Tracking Teams is to track (via scent) escaped inmates, but with fewer and fewer escapes occurring, their services are now being used more often by local law enforcement who don’t have K-9 units of their own, or who need additional K-9s to assist their teams. The DC Canine officers, who are on call 24 hours a day, perform their usual duties as correctional officers if they are not needed on a canine call. When the dogs find their quarry, they bounce excitedly and immediately…lick them.
“They’re not bite dogs – that’s why we get called a lot to search for kids and the elderly. They don’t want attack dogs to find them,” said DC’s Special Teams Coordinator Robert Hendry.
The dogs live in kennels on the prison grounds.
|Left to Right: Correctional Officer (CO) Steven Folsom, CO Michael Sparks,
"Copper" and Sgt. Johnny Morris